Tag: Holiday

 

How to Turn Your Financial Fails into Massive Wins for the New Year

As you look back on this past year, you might think about some money mistakes that resulted in serious facepalm moments: Yea, I totally shouldn’t have gone cat lady crazy and adopted those six cats at the same time. Or: Buying a timeshare is like owning your own vacation rental, right?

Fortunately, one of best way avoid making mistakes is to learn from the mistakes of others. So to help you avoid becoming a repeat offender in 2017, we asked a few of our favorite personal finance bloggers what were some of their top financial fails, and how they can plan to turn them into mega wins during the year ahead:

Falling behind on bills

You’re well aware that a big part of adulting is staying on top of your bills. And when you’re late on payments such as your student loans or credit card bill, you’re subject to the Gods of Credit dinging your credit card score. But when you neglect to make payments on time, it may not be a matter of having enough money in the bank. You might’ve just been crazy busy and forgot to send payment. 

The plan for 2017: 

Automate everything. 34-year-old Kelby Green of The Frugalennial plans to put more of his finances on autopilot to make sure he doesn’t miss a payment. “While it’s important to take an approach in paying down debt and saving for the future, automation helps make sure bills are paid on time and you’re on track with your saving goals.” 

Clicking “Buy Now” way too much 

When it comes to shopping on the Internet, you may act like a kid with access to a limitless credit card. And with essentially everything you’d ever want in the universe at your fingertips, it’s easy to buckle to temptation. For 33-year-old Kristin Wong of The Wild Wong, she went a little overboard this year with online purchases. “I don’t even remember what I bought,” she laughs. 

The plan for 2017: 

Curb the spending. Wong suggests going back to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. “Amazon is my go-to place for household essentials, from cat food to toilet paper,” she explains. “The problem with that is, you buy a bunch other junk you don’t need along with those essentials. For 2017, I’m going to try to stay off of Amazon and start buying my household goods in a grocery store. Like a normal person.” 

Not saving enough for major life events

While making major life transitions—such as getting married, having a kid, or moving to another city—is definitely exciting, not having enough funds in place can add a load of stress. For 34-year-old Sarah Li Cain of High Fiving Dollars, she went $1,000 over budget this year when moving back to the States from China. 

The plan for 2017: 

Breaking things down to bite-size. When saving up for a major short-term goal, it helps to take into account all the costs involved. For instance, when moving to new stomping grounds, you’ll want to factor in not only how much it will cost to pack all your belongs in a pod, travel costs, but also money you won’t be earning during the move. Li Cain suggests getting as specific as possible, and break things down in smaller steps. “Not only can you set mini-milestones along the way, but to make it more attainable, break it down into as little actions as possible,” she explains.

Being penny rich, pound foolish

The most valuable resource you have is your time. You only have so much of it, and you can’t trade dollars for more of it. That being said, you’ll want to gauge if going through the pains of saving some dough is going to be worth the trouble. For 26-year-old William Lipovsky of First Quarter Finance, he learned the hard way that spending hours price shopping just to save a few dollars didn’t pay off. For instance, he spent more than 10 hours with phone support team of a discount cell phone provider, only to switch back to a major carrier. “I definitely value my time more now,” says Lipovsky. 

The plan for 2017: 

Pick your battles. It’s not just about the dollars you save, but the value you get. For instance, if you are going to go to the pains of salvaging your dated laptop, only for it to putt out every few months, and be a major buzzkill to your productivity? Don’t be ridiculous. The time and money you put into repairing it will far outweigh the price of buying a new laptop.

As we look forward in 2017, be sure to take the year to reflect on how you could’ve been better with your money. Doing so will allow you to course correct and set yourself up for massive success in the new year. Taking the steps now to make changes will help you create solid healthy financial habits that will pay off for years to come.

Onward and upward!

 

The Chime Weekly Roundup: Heartfelt Giving

The much anticipated holiday weekend is almost here, and with it will come family, gifts, and joy. Before the big day, and the holidays come to a close, celebrate the spirit of the season with a few special gifts that come from the heart, and by donating to a meaningful charity. Looking onward to the new year, explore financial resolutions that will bring you success, as well as ways to avoid the financial hangover from the holidays.

Read on and enjoy these four financial posts just in time for all the festivities.

1. What to say to your friend who still doesn’t know what to get their family or friends…

Think outside the box. Literally, outside the gift box. Worried you can’t give a gift simply because you didn’t shop early enough? Give some of your time and help a loved one get a space organized, do a quick DIY project, or frame a friend’s favorite photo. There are many more ways to give than simply store-bought wonders.

2. What to say to the friend who wants to make the holiday season more meaningful…

Give to those who need it most. Find a charity you identify with and make giving simple by setting up a yearly auto-payment or noting on your calendar the day you plan to donate. Supercharge your karma, there’s no better feeling than giving to a cause expecting nothing in return.

3. What to say to your friend who is stressed about their holiday budget…

Make a money resolution. It may be building an emergency fund, creating a budget, picking up a side gig, or all three! It’s been shown having a plan, and goals, are key to financial success, and now’s the perfect time to get started.

4. What to say to your friend who always finds themselves in post-holiday debt…

New year, new you. Avoid the financial stress of having less money after the holidays by making sure you’ve planned ahead for the deficit. With any luck, the only hangover you’ll have will be from the fabulous festive wine.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s weekly roundup, and of course your weekly roundup bonus from being enrolled in our Automatic Savings account program! Visit Chime to learn more.

 

The Chime Weekly Roundup: Holiday Edition

Welcome to the Chime Weekly Roundup! Each week we bring you a roundup of the best money tips, tricks and hacks that will help you, and your friends, lead healthier financial lives.

It’s a busy time of the year. We are all hustling to buy gifts, book last minute travel, and attend holiday parties, all while trying to keep our budgets in check. It can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help. So, take a deep breath and check out this week’s roundup of holiday travel hacks that will help you go further on less while creating memories that will last a lifetime.

1. What to say to your friend who can’t figure out what to give this year…

Give the gift of travel! Experiences are all-around the best kind of gifts to give. Giving someone an experience provides them with the opportunity to learn more about themselves, and the world around them. Remember, it doesn’t need to be some exotic vacation across the sea, local museums and food festivals work just as well.

2. What to say to your friend hasn’t booked their flight home for the holidays…

Have you explored all the options? If you want to get home for the holidays without breaking the bank, and staying put due to fearful financial factors, these tried and true travel hacks are sure to help.

3. What to say to your coworker who always gets everyone the lame office gift…

Did you just wrap office supplies again? Some of the best gifts are practical with a twist, like a wordy office mug or quirky sticky notepad. These gifts have the benefit of being affordable, practical, and charming. Don’t be the person who gives an eraser or sticker pack, dazzle your coworkers with creative simplicity.

4. What to say to your friend who’s putting off open enrollment because “it’s complicated”…

There are resources that can help! Don’t just wing-it, follow advice from those who know what they are doing so you reduce the risk of missing out and losing money, on employee benefits. The process will go smoother and seem less complicated if you spend more time in the beginning on the initial prep work of gathering everything you need to complete your benefits enrollment. If you run into problems you can always utilize free online tools to help you estimate insurance costs and employer coverage, or as said earlier, ask an expert.    

5. What to say to your friend who always runs out of money around the holidays…

Develop a spending plan. You can always find a way to participate in the holiday giving if you get a little creative. Set yourself a budget, or take part in a small gift-giving event like Secret Santa or White Elephant. Try giving something sentimental and handmade, while cheap these gifts always pack that, “it’s the thought that counts” punch. Whether it’s helping a friend clean out their garage or regifting something you never use, there is always a creative way for you to get involved in the holiday cheer.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s weekly roundup, and of course your weekly roundup bonus from being enrolled in our Automatic Savings program! 

 

How to Keep Your Holiday Gift Spending in Check

It’s the most wonderful time of year. Good food, fun parties, and of course our inner child’s favorite part: gifts!

The holiday gift-giving tradition remains stronger than ever. In fact, consumers plan to spend an average of $935.58 during this year’s holiday shopping season according to the National Retail Federation. That’s the second highest level on record!

Clearly, it is easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and determining a reasonable amount to spend on gifts is a challenge. If you spend too little on a gift for a friend or family member, you may worry you’ll come off as cheap or unappreciative. If you spend too much, you might make the other person feel uncomfortable, and throw your budget out of whack.

Here are some tips to help you keep your spending in check without feeling like a Scrooge this holiday season:

Start with a budget

First, figure out how much you can afford to spend based on your income. The unofficial rule of thumb is to spend no more than 1.5% of your annual income on holiday gifts. Then, make a list of all of your gift recipients and check it twice (Santa’s watching). Shop for the most important people first: your spouse, kids, parents, etc. Then use whatever is left to buy gifts for your friends, extended family or co-workers.

Organize a Secret Santa event

Simplify your gift-giving and create a fun, festive holiday gathering with a Secret Santa present swap. Secret Santa swaps allow you to set a budget for gifts upfront so there’s no stressing over how much to spend. You can randomly assign gift recipients to each individual within a group. Go low tech by assigning someone in the group to drawing names from a hat, or use sites like Elfster to match people and collaborate on gift ideas secretly before the big reveal.

Give it a theme

Decide on a singular theme that provides gift options for everyone within a reasonable price range. For example, beer fans can buy decide to buy each other six-packs from their favorite microbreweries. Other theme ideas include books, board games, or records for the music-lovers. The best part about a theme is that it will help establish a general price range without having to limit anyone to a specific dollar amount.

Remember, it really is the thought that counts

You hear it all the time, but it’s actually true. Research has shown that that gift-receivers don’t appreciate expensive presents that much more than less expensive gifts. What really matters is being a thoughtful gift giver. Look for gifts that build connections, provide unique experiences, and demonstrate how much you know them. When in doubt you can always ask them to chime in with a suggestion or two.

 

Holiday Hacks: 5 Ways to Save Money on Last Minute Travel

“Do I really love my family this much? Is it socially acceptable to Facetime home for the holidays?”

When I wait too long to buy a flight home, I start entertaining some sad questions like this.

If you’re like me and waited until the last minute to buy a flight home for the holidays, you’re certainly in a tougher spot than you were a few weeks or months ago. But you don’t need to completely go into panic mode. Talk yourself off the cliff and act now — there are a few surprisingly easy ways to save a few extra bucks.

Explore all of the things

Google Flights recently got a clutch update that made it unquestionably the best tool to track flights. Plug in your destination cities and Dr. Google will show you a calendar with aggregate prices, featuring the cheapest flight each day. Perhaps best of all is its flight price tracker, which sends you notifications when prices drop. The search engine also draws from historical flight pricing data to give you an idea of the best time to buy.

If you want a true travel hack, try Skiplagged. Their biggest trick is what they call “hidden” flights: say I want to fly from Denver to Chicago but direct flights there are astronomical. Sfbrekiplagged knows that there’s a flight from Denver to Chicago, and after that, the flight is going from Chicago to St. Louis. Often these multi-city trips are much more affordable and all I have to do is get off in Chicago. The catch is that you cannot check a bag for these “hidden” flights, but for a last-minute hack, you can’t get much better than this.

Try an alternate airport

This past year I was in a wedding in Twin Falls, Idaho. It’s kinda hard to get there unless you want to pay big bucks to fly straight into Magic Valley Regional Airport. Your next best option is an expensive flight into Boise followed by a two-hour drive to Twin Falls. I did love my friends enough to bite the bullet on a Boise flight, but with a little digging, I found an even better option.

As it turned out, flights into Salt Lake City were cheap. It added another hour to the drive, but it saved me a heap of dough. Score one for not breaking the bank. Keep in mind that most flight-price-search aggregators may not suggest alternate airport options. If you’re willing to drive a little further to save money, look around for major airports within driving distance of your destination before you book.

Be flexible about when you fly

This is somewhat of an obvious one, but it’s worth serious consideration. Does it really matter that you fly out the day before the holiday celebration? Can you take a red-eye flight instead?

When you travel on the day of a major holiday, you’ll tend to get the most affordable airfare, plus the added benefit of the least traffic in the airport. That lower stress could pay off as you prepare for heated political debates at the dinner table.

Get creative to avoid paying baggage fees

Airlines collect billions annually from baggage fees. To avoid taking on that extra $25–75, consider wearing your bulkiest clothes to the airport. The person next to you might think you’re a nutjob, but the benefits are myriad. It could be the difference between a small carry-on bag and a heavy, pricier suitcase.

You should also, of course, pack as smart as possible. “Overpacking commonly begins with too much clothing,” says the excellent packing resource website OneBag.org. Consider: do I truly need this extra outfit, or can I wear the same one twice and do laundry at my family’s house? Also, try to bring practical shoes that function in both dressy and casual situations.

Eat meals before or after you get to the airport — and pack snacks

Pass the airport security lines and something magical happens the price of every food item doubles! The dollar menus all disappear, too! Fascinating stuff. I know how easy it is to just eat away the stress with a Cinnabon. But why not just avoid airport food altogether? Odds are you’ve already been forced into buying a pricier flight. Don’t let the system game you any further.

Eat a light, healthy meal at home beforehand. Pack some trail mix in your purse or backpack. Bring an empty water bottle and fill it at the drinking fountain. On a round-trip flight, a little restraint can save you a nice chunk of change. And it’ll make a big holiday meal taste that much better.

Bring your own entertainment

Yes, that shiny Michael Crichton book or Cosmo can be an attractive impulse buy at the newsstand. But can a podcast suffice? How about a free classic book on your Kindle? There are many ways to be entertained without spending $7.99 on a glossy magazine that’ll quickly end up in the recycling bin.

Plan ahead for ground transportation

Try to figure out ahead of time how you’ll get to your destination from the airport and you’ll avoid that impromptu taxi ride. Any chance a relative can pick you up from the airport? Play the “family sticks together” card and hitch a ride instead of dropping money on a cab or an Uber. If that fails, roll with public transportation. If you must hire a car, try uberPOOL, Uber’s carpool service, which will take a little longer but save you a few extra bucks.

Knowing a handful of hacks can go a long way to save money on last-minute travel. What are your travel hacks to save during the holidays?

Learn more about how Chime can save you money, automatically.

 

How to Host an Epic Friendsgiving on a Budget

Friends are the family you choose, and celebrating with friends around Thanksgiving has become a holiday of its own. Friendsgiving isn’t just a backup plan for those of us who can’t travel due to the expense or a busy work schedule. For many, it’s just another way to celebrate the Thanksgiving tradition among friends. According to Facebook, last year over 75,000 Friendsgiving events were created on the social network alone, and mentions of Friendsgiving doubled on Venmo.

If you’re taking the helm as host for Friendsgiving this year, you’ll need to do a little planning and budgeting. Otherwise, your ambitions for an epic feast may turn as sour as old cranberry sauce. Consider these tips to put a memorable meal on the table without making a huge dent in your bank account.

Make It a Potluck

Unless you grew up with a huge family, you probably don’t know what it’s like to cook for a dozen people. Why start now? Host a potluck Friendsgiving and ask everyone who attends to pitch in with a dish.

Let guests choose from a list of food categories to ensure that the staples are covered—we’re guessing you don’t want to end up with six different kinds of green-bean casserole. Solidify the potluck menu ahead of time and confirm that everyone knows what they’re bringing. For those friends who don’t like to cook, there are plenty of other essentials to cover, such as tableware, napkins, and beverages.

The obvious question remains: who cooks the turkey? It’s the most labor-intensive and pricey dish—for a party of 10, the turkey can cost as much as half of the total price of a Thanksgiving meal.

In most cases, the host takes on the task of cooking the turkey and making the gravy. You don’t want a friend lugging a 20-pound bird around town in a tray of hot liquid. That said, getting a friend to help with this portion is invaluable. It’s a greasy, day-long event, but it’s worth the time.

Use DIY Decorations

A tasteful Thanksgiving centerpiece can go a long way toward creating a festive atmosphere for your guests and only requires a few seasonal pieces that you can find on the cheap. Shop for colorful gourds, such as pumpkins and squash—you can use them for a future meal. Snag a few holiday-scented candles from the dollar store. Grab a handful of fall leaves from the backyard or swing by a local florist and grab some fresh greenery then scatter it artfully on the table.

Try substituting pine cones and cinnamon sticks for flowers—they last longer and maintain their decorative relevance throughout all the winter holidays

Plan for Leftovers

Wasting food costs American families thousands of dollars per year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste accounts for 28% of all garbage that is sent to landfills in terms of weight. At the same time, millions of Americans are. It’s a shame to let Thanksgiving food go to waste.

Since everyone has ostensibly brought a dish and paid up to defray costs, they’re also entitled to Friendsgiving leftovers. Ask people to bring storage containers so they can take food with them when they leave.

You can freeze some of the staple Friendsgiving dishes, such as turkey and stuffing. Keep in mind that pies and cooked vegetables don’t freeze well—eat these as soon as possible.

Chip In; Give Back

Potlucks are cost-effective, but you don’t want a few people stuck paying way more than everyone else. And what about that pricey turkey and red burgundy? If one person picks up the majority of the food or beverages, figure out a donation amount and try to settle up before the dinner if possible. It’ll help everyone avoid any awkward nagging emails or texts. For Chime members settling up is instant when you use Pay Friends.

While you’re deciding how to divvy up the costs of the event, why not consider pooling money together for a donation to a local food bank? It will amplify the feelings of goodwill long after the leftovers are gone and address a troubling need among millions of Americans who struggle with food insecurity.

Once the turkey hits the table, be sure to take some time to actively appreciate being in the company of good friends and food. A little gratitude goes a long way to not only strengthen your personal relationships but to also make you more mindful of the forces and people that helped you get where you are.

Happy Friendsgiving!

 

5 Ways to #ChimeIn for Hunger This Holiday Season

Two months ago Chime called attention to the staggering problem of food insecurity in America with our Chime In for Hunger campaign in support of  Feeding America. Many of our members responded to the call and we want to thank those who contributed.

As we gather together this holiday season to celebrate with traditions of food, gift giving, and time with friends and family, our thoughts are with those struggling to get by or put food on the table. There are close to 49 million Americans living in food-insecure households, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. These statistics are truly hard to stomach, particularly this time of year. That’s why we’re sharing a few tips on how you can make a difference, starting with your local community.

1. Donate your time.

  • Join a local gleaning group. Gleaning groups assist with picking fruit and vegetable crops that would otherwise go to waste. Volunteering with a gleaning group is a great way to make a difference while affording you the opportunity to learn about local agriculture.
  • Volunteer at a food bank in your area. Millions of families depend on meals provided through local food banks and pantries, and those facilities rely on volunteers to help sort, bag and distribute food.

Some of our team members here at Chime recently lent a hand at the San Francisco Food Bank. In just a few hours our volunteer group packaged 660 boxes of pears and 500 pounds of rice for distribution to various partners and pantries across local counties. 

2. Donate money.

  • Food banks, as well as other non-profit organizations that fight hunger, rely heavily on grants and cash donations. Food banks buy food in bulk and at discounted rates, so a donation of $1 can purchase $20 worth of food for a family in need.  You can donate directly to your local food bank, or through organizations such as Feeding America.

3. Reduce waste through recovery and donation.

  • Hosting a party? Donate the leftover food. Work with your school to ensure that unused food is bequeathed to a pantry or food bank.
  • Hire a gleaning group to yield the fruit on your land and give the harvest to a local food bank.

4. Host a food drive.

  • Consider coordinating a food drive and requesting participants donate food or a few dollars which nonprofits can use to buy food at an exponential discount.

5. Raise awareness.
The easiest way to do your part in solving the problem of food insecurity is to bring the issue into the mainstream. You can Chime In For Hunger in one of these simple ways:

  • Host a charitable dinner at your school or home to promote discussions about solving poverty and hunger issues.
  • Share this list with friends and family and ask them to join forces so you can Chime in for Hunger together.

No matter how you choose to help, any contribution of your time and resources can make a difference for those less fortunate. Tell us how you plan to Chime in for Hunger in the comments.

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